My Pictorial Examples of Inclusion

3rd gradeSenior '83hs 80's

3rd grade class trip                                            83 Senior photo                      A.S.B. senior photo

 

Inclusion is the act of including someone or something. That does very little to help us to truly understand what it means, so what does include really mean? Here are some definitions that make it a bit clearer: comprise or make part of a whole set. A second definition is to allow somebody to share in an activity or privilege (Google, 2016). An activity or a privilege does not begin to describe the way that I, and other disabled people want to be included. We want and deserve to be included, as much as humanly possible, in every aspect of our own lives! For almost all my life, I have accepted exclusion as a fact of my life. After all, I have thought that people and the laws were making progress toward allowing me and others with disabilities to have more freedom and equality, weren’t they?

I have gained so much from all my educational experiences. It always makes me sad and angry that those who came just before me did not get the same opportunities that I have; that is why I value education so much; it is a privilege to me. I am still working on the goal of employment. This is more difficult than school, my own glass ceiling

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men {and women} are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men {and women} deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” –Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776.

As we just celebrated America’s birthday, it’s 240th, how far have we come in nearly two and a half centuries? We, as people with disabilities, are people with the same natural rights to life, liberty workplace and the pursuit of happiness – just like everyone else. In my opinion, we have so much farther to go!

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. To say I was elated that day would be an understatement! If I could have leapt for joy, I would have done it. At long last, there were laws on the books that protected me and others from discrimination!  I felt that in only a few short years that I would be able to join the workforce. I tried to go back to school in 1999. I was treated just as I was before the ADA passed, obstacle after obstacle was thrown in my way. If I enrolled, I would not be allowed to take a full schedule of classes because I had no caregiver.

Fast forward to the present – 2016. I started an internship in order to complete my BA online program. I was finally finishing college. The agency’s motto and mission statements seemed to mirror my own: “Opportunities for Everyone.” It also had its roots in Christianity, something else I appreciated. Of all organizations, this place would surely respect me, my skills and the ADA laws. By now, I had less than a year before I would get my Bachelor’s in Human Services. To be completely fair and honest, I was told in the beginning that there was no possibility of a paid position, however, I was given no reason for this. I thought that perhaps all that I had to do was impress them with my passion, empathy, education and skills. Some wanted me to stay, one was willing to modify the job so that I would be able to stay, but the agency administration would not go along with the idea. The “Opportunities for Everyone” slogan was/is a complete fallacy; this was/is equally true of the mission statement: “Empowering individuals with disabilities to enhance their quality of life.”

The ADA says this: “If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” However, agencies can and do get around the law by adding job requirements that many people with disabilities cannot do: have a driver’s license, have the ability to lift 30-50 pounds, have the ability to stand for long periods etc. During my internship, I worked in the main office for the supported living division. I was not alone with clients. I did task analysis, behavior analysis, writing functional and positive behavioral support assessments. I also took part in writing goals and working one on one with the client.  However, it was stated in an email that I did nothing that anyone else could not do and nothing that I did was worthy of a paid position. I could be not alone with clients, could not learn to perform CPR and other home care aid requirements, including driving.

Thank God that Jesus did not feel this way. “Matthew 20:16 New Living Translation (NLT) states:

16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Here is another example that means a great deal to me.  I will give some background to clarify my point. A man with leprosy approached Jesus. Everyone was encouraging not to waste a moment on this poor man. There was not a single individual that wanted anything to do with this man because he was diseased and demon possessed. Yet, Jesus ignored all of those around him and spoke to him with love, respect and dignity: “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. [a] This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” (Matthew 8: 1-4.).

Lord, please let people see the gifts and talents that You have blessed me with, allow their eyes to clearly see my abilities, not my dis-ability {Emphasis intended}. I also ask this for anyone else in similar circumstances. In Your name, Amen.

 

BA GRAD 7 2016

 

 

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2 thoughts on “My Pictorial Examples of Inclusion

  1. I love your story. This is the kind of inspirational stuff that we promote at Making It to The Finish Line. Feeling included is an important part of our mission. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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